Monday 24 October 2016

Call for GSOC probe to look at other cases


Michael Galvin
Michael Galvin

A JUDICIAL inquiry into how the Garda Ombudsman investigated a case which led to Sgt Michael Galvin taking his own life may be extended to look at other incidents - including one where a hero garda waited 31 months to be cleared.

The terms of reference may now include what is being called the 'context' of other investigations by GSOC and the perceived delays in those inquiries reaching a conclusion.

Sgt Galvin took his own life at Ballyshannon Garda Station on May 28, not knowing he had been cleared by GSOC days earlier of any wrongdoing in a fatal road accident case. He had believed he would face criminal charges.

But the case is just one of several investigations which are coming under scrutiny.

The Herald has learned that a garda sergeant who cheated death in a gun attack waited two years and seven months for the outcome of a GSOC investigation to be issued.

On January 30, 2012, Sgt Debra Marsh and Gda Gerry Brazil were at the centre of a shooting incident after they stopped a van being driven erratically near Newport, Co Tipperary.

Limerick taxi driver Alan McMahon (44) grabbed two guns and fired at them.

Both narrowly escaped death as McMahon fired two shots from a shotgun and at least three bullets from a powerful .303 rifle.

Gda Brazil managed to wrestle the shotgun from Mr McMahon as he fired off two shots from the weapon.

McMahon then grabbed the rifle and fired through the windscreen, hitting the patrol car. Sgt Marsh - who managed to use pepper spray during the confrontation - fell on the roadway as Mr McMahon opened fire with the second gun.

He then turned the gun on himself, dying at the scene. A suicide note was later found at his home.

GSOC was called in to investigate the incident as a matter of routine.

Sgt Marsh provided a prepared statement on the incident to GSOC and clarified some issues with the help of her solicitor, but was then told the statement had been taken under caution.

Her solicitor advised her not to sign the statement as no caution had been administered.

GSOC told the sergeant they were investigating why she didn't have her police radio with her at the scene.


"It took 17 months for GSOC to tell her (Sgt Marsh) there would be no action against her over the walkie-talkie," said a source familiar with the case.

"It took two years and seven months in all from the incident until she was told the case was closed without any action against her."

Sources say there have been similar cases involving gardai having to wait long periods for clearance.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and the Garda Representative Association are expected to push for the cases to form part of the review.

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